5 tips for the CrossFit Open from a CrossFit Games Athlete

The CrossFit Open kicks off this Friday 12 March. So, what better time to get a few tips from a woman who once went all the way to the CrossFit Games?

Former state netballer and CrossFit Games athlete, Kate Wade, went to the CrossFit Games Affiliate Cup as part of the CrossFit Townsville Tropic Thunder team in 2010, 2012 and 2014. And when you consider that her team placed 22nd in the world in the 2014 Games (with 10,000 affiliates worldwide at the time), it’s probably worth listening when she speaks.

Six CrossFit athletes standing on a podium market 'third', with medals around their necks, smiling for the camera
Wade (second from left) with her team at the 2014 CrossFit Regionals in Queensland.

‘I was never actually great at anything in particular, but I think my greatest strength was my ability to grind and get the work done. We had success as a team because we played well to our individual strengths – we’d often be able to go unbroken in a movement, setting us up for success in workouts,’ says Wade.

‘My favourite movements were always anything shoulder to overhead, lunges, and the slightly obscure equipment and tasks we were presented with. 

WADE

‘Initially, my gymnastic game was weak as it’s super hard to learn as an adult – too many years of netball and not enough handstands! I also would get a fair dose of pre-competition anxiety, so getting out of my own head was always a bit of a weakness.’

Wade, who now trains out of Athletic Revolution in Gwelup, offers her top tips for getting the most out of the 2021 CrossFit Open: 

1. I am sorry in advance…but you’re not going to the CrossFit Games.

Wait, what? 

But good news is neither are most people. After some very loose calculations, less than one per cent of all people that participate in the Open will go to the big dance.

But when has not being the best at something stopped you from having a go? After all, that’s not what it’s about. The Open is a chance to test yourself, and to measure your fitness at a specific point in time.  

CrossFit affiliates come alive during this time, with Friday Night Lights, Super Saturdays or whatever name your gym attaches to the Open workout events. Getting the whole gang together and throwing down with your mates screaming at you is something to really appreciate.

And, like I said, for most people it’s the closest you will ever get to the real thing. So, first things first – get off the fence and sign up. You will not regret it! 

2. Congratulations – you just set a personal record on a workout!

Technically correct if you have never done the workout before, which is usually the case during the Open. Aside from the rare repeat, Mr Castro is the master of coming up with fresh and inventive ways of measuring your fitness. 

Too many times, I have seen people (including myself) walking away from a workout, beating themselves up because they felt they didn’t do well. Don’t do it! Instead, remember that you just did a workout for the first time – how you expected it to go, may not have been realistic. However, you just gave yourself something to work toward!

Take the win and learn from it. What were the bits you did well and what were the bits that didn’t go as well as expected? Change up your strategy so it works for you, and then try it again. It’s not often we repeat workouts in such a short timeframe, so take this opportunity during the Open and have some fun with it.

For example, a chipper style workout. Do you really need to hit that 60-cal row effort at a 10-cal max effort pace, leaving you staring at the wall ball for 73 seconds and clinging to life as you know it? Or would you have been better off backing the pace off slightly, allowing your breathing and heart rate to be more in control, and letting you move directly to the next movement and reps? Quite possibly.

Talk to your coaches and set yourself up for another crack at it. 

Black and white photo of Perth athlete Kate Wade completing a CrossFit Open workout.
Wade completing a workout.

3. Stay healthy and don’t catch Open Fever.

The world has enough trouble with that other pesky virus getting around at the moment – don’t catch ‘Open Fever’ as well. Stay healthy, keep calm – it’s just exercise. Presumably you are doing the Open because you enjoy training, and staying fit and healthy. 

Occasionally, I have been known to get grumpy when I can’t exercise to the extent I would like. Guilty as charged! Whether it’s being held back at work and missing a gym class, or doing a workout where I am being challenged beyond my limits of skill or strength, it’s not a great deal of fun.

There is probably going to be a workout in the Open that is going to test your capacity or is outside the scope of your ability. No worries – see the next point about completing every Open workout as prescribed or scaled. By all means have a crack!

Seeing people get their first bar muscle up or hit a PR is one of the most rewarding things you will see in the gym! But wouldn’t you rather get a great workout in and have a beer rather than a 15min AMRAP of missed attempts and torn hands? How do you hold a beer after that??? From experience – not well. 

4. Put down the leaderboard.

Much like going down the rabbit hole of your ex’s new girlfriend’s Instagram account and double tapping on a family BBQ post from 2016, stalking and refreshing the Open leaderboard isn’t going to help anything or anyone – especially your workout performance. 

Set a goal to do every Open workout and submit every Open score, no matter if it’s RX or scaled, and be proud of it! It’s just another day, another workout and another record of your training. Don’t worry about everyone else!

For those who are determined to be competitive, set up a custom leaderboard with your mates and let the banter begin. 

5. Have fun!

Go hard, have a laugh and enjoy! Don’t take it too seriously – it’ll be all over before you know it!

And for the love of all that is good in this world: do not tear your hands! Please, look after them. Leave it to the professionals (Google Hayley Adams Crossfit Games 2020 for more information…ouch).  


Want some more Open inspo? Check out Perth Fitfam’s recent profile on Perth athlete, Jono Dunlop.

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